What You Need to Know About the Types of USA Work Visas
USA work visas come in both immigrant and non-immigrant varieties. The difference between them should be fairly obvious, although it helps to know more to know which is right for you.
Read on for an in-depth look into USA work visas, including details about how to apply.
What is a Work Visa?
A work visa is a legal authorization to enter a country for the purpose of work. There are different types depending on your profession or intended job, but the bottom line is that they allow you to exchange labor for money in the USA.
A temporary work visa specifies that you only remain in the country for a set period and therefore don’t count as a step towards permanent immigration. You can, however, receive a Green Card for work purposes, which would count as a permanent visa.
Types of USA Work Visas
There are various work visas available for people living in foreign countries who want to work in the USA. These include seasonal work visas, temporary work visas and exchange worker visas. Here is a brief summary of the main types of work covered in a work visa:
Exchange Visitor Visa
US exchange visas (non-immigrant) are for those people only who have been approved to take part in work and study in the USA. This visa is called the J-1 visa and it allows foreign people to visit the United States and experience life in the US. This USA work visa is various categories of workers, including:
- Camp counselors
- Professor and research scholars
- Alien Physicians
- Government visitors
- Short term scholars
- International visitors
- Au Pairs
- Students, University
- Summer work travel
Skilled Workers Visa
This visa is for skilled and educated individuals who are employed in specialized organizations. These are H1-B visas that allow foreign workers to temporarily work in the USA for a specific employer, as specified on the USA work visa.
The holders of this visa can stay in the USA for 3 years, but it can be extended for a maximum of six years. The only requirement during the stay is that the person continues to work for the sponsoring employee.
A H-1B USA work visa typically requires a higher education degree or a qualification that matches. Exceptions are made for certain jobs, such as modeling and defense work.
Temporary Work Visa (Agricultural)
A H-2A USA work visa is suitable for people entering the US to do seasonal agricultural work. This could include things like picking, harvesting, or processing. To be eligible for this work visa, your home country must be on the designated list.
Temporary Work Visa (Non-agricultural)
A non-agricultural visa (H-2B) is a temporary work visa available to certain countries. As the name suggests, it authorizes non-agricultural work in the USA. For example, this might be working at a ski resort, amusement park, or as a camp counselor. It doesn’t have to be a seasonal job of this nature, but they’re the most common.
Other Types of Temporary Visas
Other designations of USA work visas include L, O, P, and Q. These are less common types of temporary work visa, as they include things like musicians, athletes, and people of extraordinary ability.
Permanent Work Visas
The only type of permanent work visa is a Green Card. To be eligible for this, you must have a job lined up with a US employer. The company then sponsors your application, and they must prove that there’s a need to seek foreign talent for this job.
It differs from a skilled worker visa because the assumption is that you’ll be taking on the job long-term. As mentioned above, a skilled worker visa generally lasts for a maximum of 3 years. A Green Card, however, lasts indefinitely.
Applying for USA Work Visas
At the most basic level, applying for USA work visas isn’t too different from other temporary visas. You must fill in a form online and go to an interview at your country’s US embassy or consulate.
Unlike with a Green Card application, you don’t always need a job lined up for a work visa in the US. Some visas might, such as a skilled worker visa, but something like a H-2A wouldn’t.
However, the important thing to remember about visas is that they’re temporary. As part of the application, you might have to prove your willingness to return home once it expires. If you don’t, you’ll be counted as an undocumented migrant, which, in the best case scenario, would mean you being deported once caught.
Some jobs might also require you to get a labor certificate from the Department of Labor. It ultimately depends on the type of work, but if you have a job lined up before applying, your prospective employer should know for certain.
Starting Your Visa Application
Knowing the finer details of USA work visas can be confusing, particularly if you’re not sure which applies to you. In most cases, having a job lined up makes things much easier because your employer handles the more complicated aspects.
But, if you’re unsure about which one to choose or how to fill in the form, speak to an experienced US immigration attorney.
Although getting a work visa is relatively straightforward, one of the easiest ways to enter the country is with a Green Card. A US employer can sponsor you during your application, but, again, you need a job lined up.
If that isn’t possible, your next option is to apply via the Green Card Lottery. For this, you don’t need a job lined, but you’ll get a work permit and so can find a job once you’re in the country. Using a paid immigration service is by far the best solution when it comes to Green Card Lottery officially called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. It is easy to apply and will only take you five minutes to submit the application. When your application has been submitted US Green Card Office will take care of the rest.